Civil Marriage in Portugal

casamento civil em portugal

Portugal has always had a long tradition of weddings, primarily among Portuguese citizens. However, in recent decades, there has been a significant increase in the number of foreign couples and same-sex couples choosing Portugal as the ideal location to celebrate their marriage.

Out of the 36,952 weddings held in 2022 (the highest number in the past 12 years), more than 5,000 were celebrated between a Portuguese and a foreigner, nearly 2,000 were between foreigners only, and 801 were between same-sex couples.

Advantages of Getting Married in Portugal

These numbers reflect the increasing awareness of the various advantages of getting married in Portugal. Besides its scenic beauty, pleasant climate, good food, hospitality, and friendly culture, Portugal offers the following:

1. Digital accessibility for Portuguese and Brazilian citizens

Portuguese citizens or Brazilians with the general status of equality of rights and duties (as provided in the Treaty of Porto Seguro), aged 18 or older, can choose to start their marriage process online, authenticated through their Citizen Card or Digital Mobile Key. This digital accessibility simplifies the process, and eliminates the need for travel and waiting times, making it more convenient for national and Brazilian couples.

2. Accessibility for foreigners without legal residence

Portugal is one of the few European Union countries where a foreign citizen doesn’t need to obtain a special visa or prove legal residence to get married, which allows for wedding planning without the need for lengthy bureaucratic procedures to obtain temporary residency, simplifying the process and making Portugal a highly accessible destination for people of different nationalities.

3. Equality for same-sex couples

Portugal allows same-sex couples to marry under the same conditions and circumstances as heterosexual couples. The legalization of same-sex marriage in 2010 demonstrates Portugal’s commitment to equality and diversity, positioning it as an inclusive and welcoming destination for all couples, regardless of their sexual orientation.

4. Flexibility in choosing the ceremony venue

In Portugal, couples have the freedom to choose the venue for their ceremony, whether it’s a civil registry office, a farmhouse, a hotel, or a beach. This flexibility allows the wedding to be personalized according to the couple’s preferences.

Civil marriage in Portugal is, therefore, accessible, and advantageous for many couples, regardless of their nationality, place of residence, or sexual orientation. To make the process clearer and more straightforward, we have outlined the essential requirements and answered the most frequently asked questions from those seeking our assistance in conducting their civil wedding in Portugal.

Essential Requirements for Getting Married in Portugal

1. Who can get married in Portugal?

Any individuals, regardless of nationality, sexual orientation, or country of residence, can get married in Portugal as long as they are not prohibited from doing so.

2. What can prevent the couple from marrying?

• Being under 16 years of age.

• Being 16 or 17 years of age, but their parents or legal representatives do not consent to the marriage, and the Registrar does not provide the necessary authorization.

• Demonstrating notable dementia, even with intervals of lucidity.

• Being married to another person, even in another country.

• Being related to each other in the direct line (parents/children, grandparents/grandchildren), in the second degree of the collateral line (siblings), in the third degree of the collateral line (uncles/aunts, nephews/nieces), or being related by affinity in the direct line (stepparents/stepchildren, in-laws).

• Having a guardianship relationship, being a legal guardian, or managing the other person’s property.

• Having had a prior relationship involving parental responsibilities.

• Being subject to a supported decision-making regime, with a court having declared an impediment to marriage.

• Having been convicted or awaiting trial as perpetrators or accomplices in a crime, whether consummated or not, of intentional homicide of the spouse of one of the prospective spouses.

 

3. What is required to get married in Portugal?

It is necessary to initiate a process with the Portuguese Civil Registry, known as the “preliminary marriage process”. In this process, the Registrar will verify whether the couple can marry. The couple can start the process themselves or through a representative (proxy), and they can do so in person at any Civil Registry office.

 

4. How is the marriage process initiated?

It starts with a declaration of intent, meaning the couple declares their intention to marry each other. Along with this declaration, they specify the desired form of marriage, the location of the wedding, the marital property regime, whether they will or will not conclude a prenuptial agreement, and a preferred date for the wedding ceremony. Additionally, they submit the necessary documents and pay a fee to the government, with a minimum amount of €120 (additional costs may apply, for example, if the couple wishes to marry on a non-working day or enter into a prenuptial agreement regarding their assets).

 

5. What are the essential documents needed to start the marriage process?

• Identification documents

• Birth certificates

 

6. What additional documents may be required for the process?

• Certificate of marriage eligibility

• Certificate of prenuptial agreement

• Power of attorney

*Most documents need to be legalized or apostilled to be valid in Portugal and often require translation into Portuguese.

 

7. When should the marriage process be initiated?

The process should be initiated between 1 to 3 months before the intended wedding date, and not more than 6 months in advance, as the marriage authorization decision is valid for only 6 months.

The time it takes the Civil Registry to review the process and decide whether to authorize the marriage varies according to various factors (such as the number of weddings, the available human resources at the chosen Civil Registry, the timely submission of all necessary documents by the couple, etc.). Properly submitting the marriage process with all required information and documents significantly increases the chances of obtaining a favorable decision authorizing the marriage in approximately 1 month.

 

8. What happens after the Civil Registrar reviews the process?

After reviewing the application and submitted documentation, the Registrar decides whether to authorize or reject the marriage, and the couple is always notified of this decision. If the marriage is authorized, the couple has up to six months to marry, with the date scheduled jointly between the couple and the Civil Registry. Typically, the couple should provide two Portuguese-speaking witnesses and an interpreter for the wedding ceremony. If the marriage is refused, the couple has the right to appeal the decision.

 

9. What is required for the actual wedding ceremony?

The couple (or one of them and the other’s proxy) must appear at the Civil Registry at the scheduled time for the wedding ceremony. They should bring the original valid identification documents and any witnesses previously indicated if their presence has been requested by the Registrar. As the wedding ceremony is conducted in Portuguese, if one or both of the couple do not understand Portuguese, they must be accompanied by an interpreter who also speaks a language understood by the couple.

While these are the most common requirements and answers to frequently asked questions from those seeking our assistance, the specific situation of each couple may require knowledge of specific and up-to-date requirements and procedures by current legislation and guidance from the Civil Registries.

 

How Can an Attorney Assist?

Our assistance in the civil marriage process in Portugal includes:

– Preliminary consultation to clarify any doubts about the process.

– Analysis of the couple’s specific situation

– Information about the requirements applicable in each case

– Examination of the viability of the members’ documents

– Preparation and submission of the application on behalf of the couple

– Obtaining document translations through partners in Portugal

– Presence of an interpreter, witnesses, and a representative at the wedding ceremony.

 

Benefits of Involving an Attorney

Having an attorney involved in the process typically brings several significant benefits to the couples:

1. Stress Reduction and Uncertainty

Civil marriage in a foreign country can be a complicated and challenging process. Hiring an attorney allows couples to focus on the emotional aspect of their wedding without worrying about complex legal matters.

2. Specialized Knowledge

Attorneys have a deep understanding of Portuguese laws, enabling them to assess the couple’s specific situation, identify any potential issues, and provide effective solutions.

3. Efficiency and Speed

With an attorney, you can save time by minimizing delays and ensuring that all documents and requirements are handled properly.

4. Translation and Interpretation

Not only for document translation but also to act as an interpreter during the ceremony, which is mandatory in Portugal when one of the spouses does not speak Portuguese.

5. Representation or Witnesses at the Wedding Ceremony

In almost all foreign marriages, the couples need to present witnesses who are fluent in the Portuguese language, and these can be attorneys or legal assistants. Additionally, if one of the spouses cannot be present at the wedding, they can have an attorney represent them.

6. Protection of Rights and Interests

An attorney is there to protect the rights and interests of the couples, ensuring that the process complies with laws and regulations.

In summary, by hiring an experienced attorney to assist with the civil marriage process in Portugal, couples can enjoy a smoother, more efficient, and stress-free experience, ensuring peace of mind and a memorable wedding day without legal complications.

If you would like to find out more about civil marriage in Portugal or request the assistance of a lawyer in this area, don’t hesitate to contact us.

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Lamares, Capela & Associados is committed to protecting and respecting your privacy and we will only use your personal information to manage your account and provide the products and services you have requested. Occasionally, we would like to contact you about our products and services and also about other matters that may be of interest to you.

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